Tuesday, 5 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to remember our sinfulness and all of our unworthy actions that had led us to sin against God. The Lord has given us so many opportunities to be reconciled to Him and to find our way back to Him. However we are often stubborn and refused to listen to Him and His call to us, calling us to holiness and to be forgiven from our many sins and wickedness. For unless we are forgiven our sins and all those that kept us away from God and the fullness of His love, we will end up being judged and condemned by those same sins.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Numbers regarding the moment when the people of Israel rebelled against God, grumbled and complained against Him when they journeyed through the desert and were enduring the heat and hardships. However, they forgot how God had cared for them, how He led and guided them, showed them where to go and provided for them. He gave them water to drink and plenty of food to eat, in the form of the heavenly bread, the manna that they could collect every morning except on the day of the Sabbath,

Yet, they complained against God, complaining that they had no water to drink and were impatient, demanding for more things and comforts in life, even mentioning disgust at the manna although God had been ever so generous in providing them with that food to sustain them. It would not have been possible for the entire multitudes of the Israelites to sustain themselves in the desert without any help. And God made it all possible. The people had clearly forgotten the situation they had when they were once still enslaved in Egypt, when their lives and livelihood were at the total mercy of the Egyptians, enduring extortion and humiliation.

They refused to see how God has been so kind and compassionate towards them that He has always been patient in reaching out to them and in withstanding their constant disobedience and stubborn attitudes. God has always loved His people, but those same people were overcome by their greed and worldly desires, wanting more and thinking of pleasuring themselves first, and thus committed grievous sins against God. Fiery serpents therefore came into their midst and struck many of them, and many among the people died because of the fiery serpents.

Those fiery serpents were reminders of the punishments and the consequences of our sins. For although God is indeed most loving and merciful, but we must never forget that at the same time, He is holy, all good and perfect. Sin has no place before Him and should we come to Him with sinful hearts and minds, we will be struck down by those same sins we have committed, crushed, condemned and judged by those vile deeds and acts we had done. No sin can remain unaccounted for before the Lord, and we will have to answer for every sins we have against the Lord, be it great or small. And those rebellious Israelites tasted firsthand the consequences of their sins and disobedience against God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to the people, especially many of the Jewish people who were skeptical of Him and His teachings. Some among them like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law opposed the Lord and even saw Him as a blasphemer, a fraud and a great threat of their power and influence within the community of the people of God. They doubted Him and questioned Him, His authority and teachings. Yet, the Lord continued to speak courageously and revealed to them what He would do for their sake, so that all those who believe in Him will not perish and be destroyed by their sins.

As we heard the Lord saying about Himself going to be raised up, as the Son of Man, being raised up between the heaven and the earth, we now know that He was in fact referring to the moment of His crucifixion, the time when He laid down His life for the sake of everyone. In the comparison which the Lord Jesus Himself made in another occasion with Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who sympathised and believed in Him, just as Moses crafted and lifted up the bronze serpent as instructed by the Lord, He would also therefore be lifted up on His Cross, for everyone to see and to witness His Passion, suffering and death.

And just as all those who were bitten by the fiery serpents and looked upon the bronze serpent did not perish but lived, hence, all of us who gazed upon the Lord and His Cross, and believed in Him, all of us who have been bitten by the venom and sting of sin will also be saved and not perish. We will be spared from eternal death and suffering. We will enjoy forever the wonders of God’s love and will be fully reconciled to Him, provided we truly have that faith in us and believing that in Him alone we can find true happiness in this life. And we are all reminded of this fact today and are all called to draw ever closer to God.

We are reminded not to continue walking down the path of sin, and do our very best to follow the Lord and walk down His path from now on. Sin is something very dangerous and can easily trap even the best and the most righteous ones among us. We have to resist the temptations to sin and the pull of our desires. And for this, we can seek the help of our holy predecessors, such as St. Vincent Ferrer, a holy priest and servant of God whose life is a great inspiration for all of us. St. Vincent Ferrer was a Dominican preacher and friar who devoted his time and effort to bring the people of God ever closer to the Lord and to return to Him.

St. Vincent Ferrer spoke courageously about the Lord among the people, encouraging many people to seek Him and His mercy and forgiveness. St. Vincent Ferrer also worked hard to make peace among conflicting parties at that time, spending a lot of time and effort to abandon their sinful ways, and embracing the path of God’s salvation. The Lord has worked through St. Vincent Ferrer as well as through many other saints, holy men and women who had gone before us, to do His many great works in our midst. How about us then? Can we do the same as well?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to find our way to the Lord with faith. Let us renew our love and faith in Him. May all of us be ever more committed to the Lord in all the things we do, and may we be good role models and inspirations for each other, in how we live our lives and devote our time and attention to the Lord. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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